Most residents in Mui Wo are fond of buffaloes and want them to stay

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 June, 2011, 12:00am

I refer to your editorial ('Leave the Lantau buffaloes alone', May 21). It is sad, and frankly quite contemptible, that on an island as large as Lantau the government cannot make room for a handful of these animals. They represent the last surviving icons of Hong Kong's honourable heritage as a once-thriving agricultural society.

Ancient Chinese records cite Hong Kong as being 'the Emperor's rice bowl', because the rice sent to the Forbidden City from here was said to be the finest in the realm.

For those who have watched the relentless killing of these animals, it seems clear that the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department simply wants to do whatever means less work for it. There is no actual 'conservation' effort in any of its dealings with the buffaloes.

Your editorial said that some locals found the buffaloes 'a nuisance, blocking traffic, destroying flower beds and leaving their dung in inconvenient places'. In fact, virtually everyone in Mui Wo, old villagers and young expats alike, enjoy the buffaloes.

There is a small cabal of local landowners who want the buffaloes gone so that the wetlands can then be re-zoned for development. It's these people who are pressuring the department to get rid of the buffaloes.

They should be pressed to state their strong views in public, not via back channels. It is wrong that a few powerful people should have the ability to secretly make a government cower, and act against the wishes of the larger community.

Much of Mui Wo's open acreage is actually owned by companies outside Lantau. Therefore, some of this land could be temporarily given over to the last three buffaloes to live out their lives. An unobtrusive fence would allow them to be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike, but prevent any injuries. The companies involved could earn great public relations; they could even get naming rights for these three buffaloes. How about Harry, Karl and Larry?

If we allow these last Mui Wo buffaloes to be taken away, yet another of our few remaining links to the natural world will be lost forever. Then someone will suggest that a bronze statue of a water buffalo be put up in Mui Wo to remind us of Lantau's heritage. The Tourism Board, awaking from its usual stupor, will then add this statue to the 'must see' sights when tourists visit the island.

Steven Knipp, Lantau


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